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Agranulocytosis

Granulocytopenia; Granulopenia

White blood cells fight infections from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other germs. One important type of white blood cell is the granulocyte, which is made in the bone marrow and travels in the blood throughout the body. Granulocytes sense infections, gather at sites of infection, and destroy the germs.

When the body has too few granulocytes, the condition is called agranulocytosis. This makes it harder for the body to fight off germs. As a result, the person is more likely to get sick from infections.

Causes

Agranulocytosis may be caused by:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Bone marrow diseases, such as myelodysplasia or large granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia
  • Certain medicines used to treat diseases, including cancer
  • Certain street drugs
  • Poor nutrition
  • Preparation for bone marrow transplant
  • Problem with genes
  • Spleen enlargement

Symptoms

Symptoms of this condition may include:

Exams and Tests

A blood differential test will be done to measure the percentage of each type of white blood cell in your blood.

Other tests to diagnose the condition may include:

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the low white blood cell count. For example, if a medicine is the cause, stopping or changing to another medicine may help. In other cases, medicines to help the body make more white blood cells will be used.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Treating or removing the cause often results in a good outcome.

Prevention

If you are having treatment or taking medicine that could cause agranulocytosis, your health care provider will use blood tests to monitor you.

References

Cook JR. Bone marrow failure syndromes. In: Hsi ED, ed. Hematopathology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 5.

Klokkevold PR, Mealey BL. Influence of systemic conditions. In: Newman MG, Takei HH, Klokkevold PR, Carranza FA, eds. Carranza's Clinical Periodontology. 12th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 11.

Murphy MF, Pasi KJ, Mead A. Haematological disease. In: Kumar P, Clark M, eds. Kumar and Clarke's Clinical Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 16.

    • Blood cells

      Blood cells - illustration

      Blood is comprised of red blood cells, platelets, and various white blood cells.

      Blood cells

      illustration

      • Blood cells

        Blood cells - illustration

        Blood is comprised of red blood cells, platelets, and various white blood cells.

        Blood cells

        illustration

      Review Date: 4/11/2018

      Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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